Palestinian Cinema

Palestinian Cinema: Landscape, Trauma and Memory

Nurith Gertz
George Khleifi
Copyright Date: 2008
Pages: 256
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3366/j.ctt1r22xc
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  • Book Info
    Palestinian Cinema
    Book Description:

    Although in recent years, the entire world has been increasingly concerned with the Middle East and Israeli-Palestinian relationship, there are few truly reliable sources of information regarding Palestinian society and culture, either concerning its relationship with Israeli society, its position between east and west or its stances in times of war and peace. One of the best sources for understanding Palestinian culture is its cinema which has devoted itself to serving the national struggle. Filmmakers have strived to delineate Palestinian history and to portray the daily life of Palestinians - men, women and children. As well as attempting to connect the past to the typically distressed present, Palestinian cinema has endeavored to suggest a future of national unity, revealing time and again how the longing for personal liberty clashes with the hardships of national existence.In this book, two scholars - an Israeli and a Palestinian - in a rare and welcome collaboration, follow the development of Palestinian cinema, commenting on its response to political and social transformations. They discover that the more the social, political and economic conditions worsen and chaos and pain prevail, the more Palestinian cinema becomes involved with the national struggle. As expected, Palestinian cinema has unfolded its national narrative against the Israeli narrative, which tried to silence it. The reflection of the Israeli in Palestinian cinema is one more harsh and painful testimony to the resentment and hostility between the two peoples, who share a common patch of earth and landscape.Key Features*The first, serious comprehensive study of Palestinian film.*A rare collaboration between Israeli and Palestinian scholars.*A reliable insight into Palestinian society and culture, and the Israeli-Palestinian relationship.

    eISBN: 978-0-7486-3409-5
    Subjects: Film Studies

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-10)

    “History has forgotten our people,” writes Yazid Sayigh (1998) about the Palestinians, while Emile Habibi, in his book The Six Day Sextet (1968a), presents the opposite position: “We are the people who have overlooked history.” Today, with the establishment of Palestinian nationality and its historical narrative in writings, art, and literature, both positions seem inaccurate.¹ Yet, the notion that the post-1948 Palestinian historical narrative has thus far not been told in its entirety or, at least, that it has yet to find its full artistic expression, is still prevalent among writers and scholars. According to Anton Shammas, we can certainly...

  4. 1. A CHRONICLE OF PALESTINIAN CINEMA
    (pp. 11-58)

    In 1935, Ibrahim Hassan Sirhan filmed a 20 minute-long movie that documents the visit of Prince Saud to Jerusalem and Jaffa. The Saudi Prince was escorted on this occasion by the Mufti of Palestine, Haj Amin al-Husseini. This event constitutes the starting point of Palestinian cinema, whose history is divided into four periods echoing the various stages of the national Palestinian struggle, the topic on which Palestinian cinematic creation has fed and focused. Since the periods tend to stretch and overlap, the years marking their beginning and end are merely suggestions and by no means indicate clear-cut boundaries.

    The first...

  5. 2. FROM BLEEDING MEMORIES TO FERTILE MEMORIES
    (pp. 59-73)

    A manifesto, published in 1973 by the Photography Section, Mustafa Abu-Ali’s Palestinian film group, articulates the goals of Palestinian cinema thus: “to reveal the actual reasons for [the Palestinians’] situation and to describe the stages of the Arab and Palestinian struggle towards the liberation of [their] country” (Hennebelle and Khayati, 1977). The writer of the manifest maintains, furthermore, that these goals require the finding of a new aesthetics to express the new contents, and a total commitment of cinema to the Palestinian revolution and Arab causes: “The Palestinian Film Group views itself as an integral part of the institutions of...

  6. 3. ABOUT PLACE AND TIME: THE CINEMA OF MICHEL KHLEIFI
    (pp. 74-100)

    Michel Khleifi’s early documentary films, which were created in the course of the third period, initiated a new era in Palestinian cinema. His first film, Fertile Memories (1980), crystallized and was the culmination of a process that had begun in the early 1970s and which was to be continued in later films. On the one hand, place in Khleifi’s film, as in others, is an imagined place that revives the past, drawing on the pre-traumatic era and, thus functioning as a national, unity-constructing symbol that presents an idyllic home and homeland created out of an exilic state.¹ On the other...

  7. 4. WITHOUT PLACE, WITHOUT TIME: THE FILMS OF RASHID MASHARAWI
    (pp. 101-118)

    Rashid Masharawi’s films do not explore the enchanted past that is restored in Michel Khleifi’s films, nor do they spin – as Khleifi’s cinema does – a fantasy of open expanses. Rather, his cinema delineates the refugees’ here-and-now daily struggle for survival within a space that has been gradually diminishing, from the time Palestinians were driven out of their native villages and gathered in the refugee camps up to the period of siege that they endured during the Second Intifada. Attempts to burst out to the open spaces of the land and references either to the country’s past or to future plans...

  8. 5. THE HOUSE AND ITS DESTRUCTION: THE FILMS OF ALI NASSAR
    (pp. 119-133)

    Ali Nassar’s two films, The Milky Way (1997) and In the Ninth Month (2002), are constructed, to a great extent, along familiar lines. They may be defined as epigonic films, deriving their plots and styles from contemporary cinema and literature as well as from those of earlier periods, while simplifying and reversing them. Thus, the complex, deep, and multidimensional has become simple and flat, the implicit has become explicit, and what, in earlier films, had reflected the place and Zeitgeist has remained here unchanged, even when transferred to a different time and place.

    It is precisely because of this characteristic...

  9. 6. A DEAD-END: ROADBLOCK MOVIES
    (pp. 134-170)

    Since the last years of the twentieth century and up to the present, directors such as Khleifi, Masharawi, Nassar, and Suleiman, who had established themselves in Palestinian society in general and the Palestinian cinematic landscape in particular, have been joined by a large number of filmmakers, most of whom create documentaries. Some of these filmmakers belong to the generation that grew up and evolved during the period when the Palestinian national movement matured, both within the Occupied Territories and in the Diaspora. Several of them were brought up in the West Bank, in the Gaza Strip, or in the refugee...

  10. 7. BETWEEN EXILE AND HOMELAND: THE FILMS OF ELIA SULEIMAN
    (pp. 171-189)

    A comparison of Suleiman’s two feature films, Chronicle of a Disappearance (1996) and Divine Intervention (2002), lends itself to a comprehensive review of what had transpired in Palestinian society in general and in its cinema in particular during the period between the signing of the Oslo peace accords and the Second Intifada, from “the calm before the storm,” as Suleiman calls it, to “total devastation and disintegration” (Erickson, 2003). The two films revolve around similar episodes. In both, some of the scenes take place in the home of Suleiman’s parents in Nazareth and others in Jerusalem; in both the director...

  11. CONCLUSION
    (pp. 190-192)

    In this book we have examined the place of the Palestinian people in history and the place of history in the Palestinian narrative. We have explored the connection between Palestinian history and Palestinian cinema, analyzing the manner in which cinema has constructed Palestinian memory and space, representing the places that once existed and those that are now gone. Also contemplated is the cinematic documentation of the lives of Palestinian men, women, and children, both within Israel and outside it, in the family, the village, and the refugee camp. We have traced the cinematic expression of the hardships of exile together...

  12. EPILOGUE
    (pp. 193-199)

    The writing of this book was completed in 2003. While it was being prepared for publication, several important events took place in Palestinian cinema and some of its best films were produced. We can only refer to these films in brief, hoping that additional books written in due course will fill the gap.

    The first Palestinian film to transcend the local scene and reach an inter - national audience was released in 2005. It won the European Film Academy Award for best script, the 2006 best foreign film award at the Golden Globes, and was also nominated for the best...

  13. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 200-211)
  14. FILMOGRAPHY
    (pp. 212-215)
  15. INDEX
    (pp. 216-224)